Music executive and Burgundy producer launch Oregon Pinots in HK

Former music producer Jay Boberg and Burgundy winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo have teamed up and released their Domaine Nicolas Jay Pinot Noirs from Oregon in Greater China, the latest foray into the expansive Asian market from a high-profile collaboration in Oregon.

Jay Boberg of Domaine Nicolas Jay was in Hong Kong last month to launch his wines

With Oregon’s growing reputation for Pinot Noir, Domaine Nicolas Jay has followed in the footsteps of fellow Oregon producers such as Domaine Drouhin, Adelsheim and Antica Terra, and released four wines in Hong Kong and mainland China with local importers, Watson’s Wine and Kerry Wines.

Founded only in 2014, the winery, according to Boberg, boasts vines with an average age of 20 years, with the oldest in Bishop Creek vineyard planted in 1987 and 1988, where its fruits are used to make its namesake single vineyard Pinot Noir, selling for a retail price of US$100 a bottle.

In addition to ‘Bishop Creek’, the winery makes another two single vineyards Pinots, ‘Nysa’ and ‘Momtazi’ from vines planted in 1990 and 1999. Production for the three single vineyard wines stands at around 100 cases each, Boberg told dbHK, while stressing the importance of vine age for a relatively young wine producing region like Oregon.

Its flagship wine, however, is not the three single vineyard reds but the generic Domaine Nicolas Jay Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, a blend of grapes from different plots, said the vintner. Its production of 2015 vintage is around 2,400 cases and retails for US$65 a bottle.

“The reason, for the most part, is that there are a few vineyards in Oregon that have enough age to really have the character and complexity individually needed to justify a single vineyard,” said Boberg. “We purchased Bishop Creek, which has vines of 30 years old, planted in 1987 and 1988. That was a wine that’s old enough. Most are quite new.”

Before starting the project, Boberg and Jean-Nicolas spent two years visiting Oregon and tasted fruits from 200 different vineyards. “We both agreed that there are great wines in Oregon, and if we work hard, we can make world class Pinot, so we embarked on the journey,” remarked the music producer.

However, starting a winery wasn’t so easy as he put it, who previously worked on Chapter 24 Vineyards, another winery in Oregon before starting on his joint venture with Jean-Nicolas.

“It’s not so easy. I wasn’t interested in doing a vanity project. Where you got involved and paid a bunch of money, and did not operate like a business but a lifestyle. I want to do a real business where you can build a brand and hopefully for generations,” he explained. 

Boberg co-founded I.R.S. Records in 1979 and worked as President of MCA Records afterwards where he managed artists such as The Roots, Mary J. Blige. He is currently the chairman of Isolation Networks.

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